Topic: Military Theory
Patton's General Combat Principles
Instructions to the Third United States Army, General George S. Patton, Jr., 3 April 1944
1. There is no approved solution to any tactical situation.
2. There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is: "To so use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wounds, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum time."
3. In battle, casualties vary directly with the time you are exposed to effective fire. Your own fire reduces the effectiveness and volume of the enemy’s fire, while rapidity of attack shortens the time of exposure. A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood!
4. Battles are won by frightening the enemy. Fear is induced by inflicting death and wounds on him. Death and wounds are produced by fire. Fire from the rear is more deadly and three times more effective than fire from the front, but to get fire behind the enemy, you must hold him by frontal fire and move rapidly around his flank. Frontal attacks against prepared positions should be avoided if possible.
5. "Catch the enemy by the nose with fire and kick him in the pants with fire emplaced through movement."
6. Hit hard soon; that is, with two battalions up in a regiment, or two divisions up in a corps, or two corps up in an army—the idea being to develop your maximum force at once before the enemy can develop his.
7. You can never be too strong. Get every man and gun you can secure, provided it does not unduly delay your attack. The German is the champion digger.
8. The larger the force and the more violence you use in the attack, whether it be men, tanks, or ammunition, the smaller will be your proportional losses.
9. Never yield ground. It is cheaper to hold what you have than to retake what you have lost. Never move troops to the rear for a rest or to reform at night, and in the daytime only where absolutely necessary. Such moves may produce a panic.
10. Our mortars and artillery are superb weapons when they are firing. When silent, they are junk—see that they keep firing!